German Scheitholt Zither

German Scheitholt Zither

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This German Scheitholt type zither was made by an unknown maker in Pennsylvania, undetermined date. It has a trapezoidal-shaped body, with a wood nut and bridge, 17 metal frets, 3 round sound holes, 3 cotter pins (most-likely replacements, but function well enough to tune the instrument), and rounded head.

According to the collector Anne Grimes, the instrument came from Western Virginia where it was found by a road crew preparing to grade for a new highway, in 1974. The zither was purchased from William "Unaka Bill" Breedlove, an amateur folksinger and poet of Block City and Church Hill near Kingsport, Tennessee.

Anne Grimes (1912-2004) was an American journalist, musician, and historian of American (particularly Midwestern) folklore. Grimes studied voice and piano at Ohio Wesleyan and initiated graduate studies at Ohio State University. Following her education, Grimes was a music teacher, music and dance critic, and radio host. After WWII, Grimes began collecting and documenting folk songs throughout Ohio, as well as collecting Appalachian dulcimers and zithers. She would continue this work, performing, recording, and lecturing on instruments from her collection throughout the rest of her career.

Currently not on view
Object Name
place made
United States: Pennsylvania
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 3 7/8 in x 4 3/4 in x 37 7/16 in; 9.8425 cm x 12.065 cm x 95.09125 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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